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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,

Sorry for what may be seen as a silly question but I had to ask since I am rather new to the BMW roadsters. What are the major differences between the Z3 and Z4? I only ask because I am thinking about purchasing one of them the for a weekend/spring/summer car and I kind of like both of them.

I like the size of the Z3, it looks quite a bit smaller, but I also like the more modern look of the Z4. Is one more reliable than the other? Are there some model years to avoid? My budget would be $20k max.

Thanks In Advance!
 

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Good thing is that you will not need to get even close to your 20K budget unless you are looking for a M car. I know there have been some Z3 cars with sub frame isses that can cost some big bucks to fix but I would go for what look you like better.
 

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The Arkleyologist
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I have owned several Z3s and one Z4...bottom line...my wife and I took several 800+ mile trips in our Z4 in total comfort....this would not be the case with a Z3. On the other hand, you will probably be money ahead on maintenance/upkeep with the Z3. In my case, I have been driving British sports cars for over 55 years and in the last couple of years have sold all but one of them because of the lack of comfort and my inability now to maintain them. I now personally own a 1997 Z3 2.8, with hardtop, that is an amazing car with enough comfort and yet "tossable" on the twisties. Another thought, with the rediculously low prices of these used cars, you could own a fine example of each one of these cars for a total of less than $15k...food for thought!
 

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Size. I***8217;m 6***8217; and 210 and getting in the Z3 was difficult. Z4 no problem. I owned a 2003 Z4 and now a 2007 Z4. Zeeboy is correct with the ride. If getting a Z4, I would go with a 2006-2008 (less issues and more HP on 3.0 engine). Major issue with Z4***8217;s; convertible top motors rust up because two drain holes near the motor clog up. Make sure drain holes have not been clogged. Cup holders suck/break; typical BMW (appeasement to the US market). Most BMW six***8217;s suffer from oil leak from poor gaskets/rubber rings where oil filter housing mounts to the block. Windshield washer pump fails.
Last, get the 3.0si model with sport suspension if possible.

You may need to see a dentist to make sure your front teeth are looking good, because you will be grinning a lot when you do some twisted.

Good luck.
 

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The Arkleyologist
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One other potential annoyance with the Z3 is the non adjustable lumbar support..if you are under 5' 10", the lumbar will more than likely hit you in the upper back, rather than in the lower lumbar area...spend some seat time in a Z3 before purchasing...30 minutes will not reveal this annoyance..a two hour drive will..
Another potential Z3 quirk is a noisy rear axel...not a functional concern...just annoying..
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the input everyone. I saw on some other website a very similar question was posed and the vast majority of responses to the OP was that the Z4 was hands down the better car. I am about 5'8" and 150lbs so I think either car would work for me. I would not anticipate long distance drives with this car, just more local cruising. We don't really have that many great twisty roads here in southwest PA like there are in Cali unfortunately so the car would primarily be used for local driving around town and to work when the weather is nice and dry. I would think for my purpose either car would work.

@Zeeboy, your post about being money ahead with the Z3 is very appealing to me. I think both cars are very sweat and sporty looking, but something about the Z3 is very appealing to me, specially from the side profile. I like the "fins" just in from of the doors. I know it sounds silly, but I think that is a nice touch. I think the rear of the Z4 is better though. I know at the budget and price range I am looking at, there will be some issues, but I would like to get into something that is not going to give me problems all the time. How big of a problem if the subframe issue with the Z3? I am thinking since the Z4 is the more advanced car, there will be more little things to go wrong that would need attention. Am I wrong in that assumption?

I found the below Z3 in North Carolina, the price is nice (at least I think)...https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?listingId=497207809&hideBackLink=true
 

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The Arkleyologist
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Pkaljan...the Z3 was "loosely" based on the 1950's 507 bmw sports car...an iconic sports car that is worth more than you and I could afford today...the Z4 was designed by Chris Bangle..it was highly criticized by many from the beginning...full disclosure for me..the Z4 styling became better as the years go by..I like it.
Regarding the subframe issue..it is most likely that most cars do not suffer from this. M cars were more likely to develope the crack due to having much more torque..but again..it all depends on the driving habits of previous owners. The reason for the crack is the "pumpkin" is attached to the floor. Put the car on a rack and you can see if there are cracks in the trunk floor..also, pull the trunk carpeting out and you can see if there are cracks in the floor. This problem does occurr, but it is rare. (Randy Forbes has a kit to fix this issue and actually improve the attachment area)
In my opinion, with the optional hardtop installed, the Z3 is a quiet and solid car.....from the driving and visual experience I prefer the Z3.
 

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A minor difference to consider between the Z3-Z4 is that the 3 has a plastic rear convert. window.
They tend to haze and crack and have to be replaced, especially if you are putting the top up and down on a regular basis.
 

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The Z3 is an E36Ti with a sexy body, and the Z4 is an E46 with a sexier body. :D
 

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I had a 2002 Z3 3.0i I purchased new and a 2008 Z4 3.0i I purchased just under 2 years ago.

IMO, it is impossible to say which is the better car. They are very different in appearance, "feel", and refinement and it really is a personal decision which vehicle is the best for someone. What follows is only my opinion.

Overall the first generation Z4 is a much more refined and better engineered car compared to the Z3. The convertible top is much better designed both in terms of smooth easy single button reliable operation and the glass rear window with embedded defogger wires. The interior is more refined albeit with minimal places to put stuff. The automatic HVAC system works very well and the electric seats are fully motorized. The Z4 trunk is somewhat bigger. The frame feels stiffer and comes from the factory with a front strut brace. The Z4 also seems quieter with a more muted exhaust note. HOWEVER, with all this refinement comes a weight penalty so, IMO, the Z4, while still fun to drive, just does not have the feel of a light relatively powerful roadster like my 2002 3.0i Z3 had.

With respect to appearance, the Z4 is certainly a head turner based on the frequency I hear someone shout "Nice car man!" Nevertheless, IMO, the Z3 is just absolutely gorgeous with its somewhat retro look and flowing lines while the Z4 is not elegant but even somewhat garish. In my mind is the Z4 is like one of the many very good looking women one sees everyday but the Z3 is analogous to that one women, infrequently seen, that suddenly grabs your attention, your hormones, and causes you to turn your head even when standing next to your wife. The Z4 is just one of many very good looking cars but the Z3 styling stands out all by itself.

Within the next two months I will take delivery of a 2019 Boxster I recently ordered. However, if I could buy a brand new 2002 Z3 just like my 2002 I would not have hesitated to do just that. I think the first generation Z4 was a good compromise between the rough around the edges feel I loved about my Z3 and the refinements most buyers want. Unfortunately, I believe BMW lost their way big time with the second generation Z4. It was obese with respect to weight, the hard top convertible is not at all desirable in comparison to a rag top, most models were not even available with a real 3 pedal manual transmission, and it was just too expensive. I perceived it to be a BMW knockoff of the plump Lexus SC430. It also lost that wonderful in line 6 to the sucky (based on my 2016 X3 performance) turbo 4. None of the brand new Z4s that were recently announced are available with a 3 pedal manual and the design is shared with Toyota. Although Toyota/Lexus products are probably the most reliable and refined cars out there every one I have owned or driven are bouncy pigs very reminiscent of my Dad's 1950/1960 vintage Buicks and Cadillacs. I would not have defected to Porche had the new Z4 been designed without Toyota's influence and retained much more of the Z3's genes.
 

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RhoXS, I second ZEEBOY***8217;s sentiment...nicely covered comparison(s) of the Zs 3 and 4 and great commentary on the second Gen Z4.
My sentiments exactly.
 

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Along the line of chassis stiffness, I came across this a few years ago, and when you look where the Z4 Roadster falls with respect to other hardtop cars it's pretty impressive. And yeah, the Z3 is unfortunately a wet noodle.
 

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I used to have a Z3 a few years ago and really enjoyed the top-down mountain drives until it had to go because the inhabitants count of our home doubled over night. Just to touch a bit on the issue of the new Z4, since it came up, I think it's a bit confusing in it's exterior design layout. It takes design cues from all over the place...The stacked headlamp design, that pushes the clusters back into the wings and hood, are new territory for BMW. The flared nostrils are unmistakably Kia/Mercedes take aways...Not that the look isn't nice, but the similarities are striking. The overall lines are too muddled and less harmonious than the previous-gen Z4 which was a smooth, shark-like affair; the new Z4 is more angular and technical. 50:50 balance is maintained in true Bmw tradition and the track is wide while the wheelbase is short; the classic roadster proportions of a long hood and a cabin pushed well back are all there.
 

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When the then-new Z3 appeared in the film Goldeneye nearly 20 years ago, I thought it was a huge win for BMW. After all, having none other than 007 debut your new sports car could never be a bad thing, and the Z3 had classic lines to boot. But it also had a wee 1.9 liter 4 banger churning out a paltry 138 hp. Hardly the stuff of dreams or the vehicle of choice for crossing time zones outrunning evil, nor a spiritual successor to the many legendary Bond vehicles that preceded it. (The perfect car of course, would have been the Z8). But with the arrival of the 6 cylinder, the Z3 finally got the engine it deserved.
When the Z4 came out, I honestly thought BMW had jumped the shark a bit with the styling. To me, the car was both handsome from some angles and odd from others. But with time I have really come to embrace the design, and I think both the Z3 and Z4 have aged really well. As far as driving dynamics, I compare the Z3 to the Miata, both being relatively small and flickable, and the Z4 to the Boxster, i.e. less tossable but better planted.
 

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When the then-new Z3 appeared in the film Goldeneye nearly 20 years ago, I thought it was a huge win for BMW. After all, having none other than 007 debut your new sports car could never be a bad thing, and the Z3 had classic lines to boot. ...
Time flies, it was actually 24 years ago, 1995 when the movie was released. On a number of occasions over the years I read BMW did not expect or intend for the Z3 to have large production numbers or a long production run. It was originally thought of as a limited production run vehicle mostly for the purpose of attracting customers to the showroom. As a result, BMW did not invest as much engineering resources into its design as they might have otherwise. Apparently, sales took off well beyond BMW's expectations and it seems the 007 movie is given a lot of credit for that. I think the incredible styling also had a lot to do with it. I can remember exactly where I was (I75 north bound between Sheridan and Griffin), who I was with, and the time of day when I saw my first Z3. It really made an impact.

The original engine was indeed very anemic. That was a large part of the reason I waited until 2002 to buy one. I purchased a lot of new cars since my first new car in 1971 but my 2002 Z3 is unquestionably my favorite of all of them. My red 1988 E30 M3 is a close second but none of the other cars I owned gave me the enjoyment I received from my Z3.

In May 2017 I made huge error of judgement and gifted my Z3 with 160K miles to someone I know whom I thought deserved it. Except for a major problem with the top frame it was in absolutely perfect condition with no oil leaks, all suspension parts in as new condition, transmission shifter bushing replaced, etc. Everything but the top worked and performed as it came from the factory and even the top could still be easily manually lowered. I walk past it a few times a week now. This asshole drives it all the time but almost completely neglects it. The tires are at the wear markers, the window switches are hanging out of their console holes, interior trim pieces are cracked, strips of Home Depot rubber bath seals keeps the top from leaking when it rains but prevent it from being lowered, the interior looks like a Dumpster was emptied in it, and the last time the top was put down was when I owned it. What a waste! He got the car for free and is not willing to put anything it to maintain it even though it is his daily driver. I hear he likes to brag he drives a BMW. When my new Boxster arrives in about 6 weeks I am sure he will expect to be a candidate for my 2008 Z4 (also in 100% perfect condition) but that absolutely ain't going to happen.
 

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Time flies, it was actually 24 years ago, 1995 when the movie was released. On a number of occasions over the years I read BMW did not expect or intend for the Z3 to have large production numbers or a long production run. It was originally thought of as a limited production run vehicle mostly for the purpose of attracting customers to the showroom. As a result, BMW did not invest as much engineering resources into its design as they might have otherwise. Apparently, sales took off well beyond BMW's expectations and it seems the 007 movie is given a lot of credit for that. I think the incredible styling also had a lot to do with it. I can remember exactly where I was (I75 north bound between Sheridan and Griffin), who I was with, and the time of day when I saw my first Z3. It really made an impact.

The original engine was indeed very anemic. That was a large part of the reason I waited until 2002 to buy one. I purchased a lot of new cars since my first new car in 1971 but my 2002 Z3 is unquestionably my favorite of all of them. My red 1988 E30 M3 is a close second but none of the other cars I owned gave me the enjoyment I received from my Z3.

In May 2017 I made huge error of judgement and gifted my Z3 with 160K miles to someone I know whom I thought deserved it. Except for a major problem with the top frame it was in absolutely perfect condition with no oil leaks, all suspension parts in as new condition, transmission shifter bushing replaced, etc. Everything but the top worked and performed as it came from the factory and even the top could still be easily manually lowered. I walk past it a few times a week now. This asshole drives it all the time but almost completely neglects it. The tires are at the wear markers, the window switches are hanging out of their console holes, interior trim pieces are cracked, strips of Home Depot rubber bath seals keeps the top from leaking when it rains but prevent it from being lowered, the interior looks like a Dumpster was emptied in it, and the last time the top was put down was when I owned it. What a waste! He got the car for free and is not willing to put anything it to maintain it even though it is his daily driver. I hear he likes to brag he drives a BMW. When my new Boxster arrives in about 6 weeks I am sure he will expect to be a candidate for my 2008 Z4 (also in 100% perfect condition) but that absolutely ain't going to happen.
No good deed goes unpunished and I feel your pain. That's why my cardinal rule is to never sell a vehicle to someone I know. The last time I broke that rule was like a big giant dope slap. I sold a car to a friend who begged me for a year to sell it to him until I finally caved. And for the next year after I heard about all the problems he was having. This from someone who never bothered to open the hood.

Sent from my LM-X210(G) using Bimmerfest mobile app
 
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